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Putting a Woman's Face on U.S. Currency

An organization is trying to get the $20 bill changed, with a woman's face replacing that of Andrew Jackson.   

| BY Kent McDill

Can you name the four women who have appeared on common United States currency?

Perhaps not. But you can help to determine the fifth.

In order to coincide with Women’s History Month in March, a campaign is underway to get the United States Treasury to change the $20 bill to have the face of an important woman from American history, and she would replace Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States.

The Women On 20s campaign is the work of Barbara Ortiz Howard and Susan Ades Stone, who decided it is time for a woman to be the face of one of the more prominent Treasury bills used in the United States. They have initiated a voting process on the website www.womenon20s.org, asking citizens to vote for whom they would like to see depicted on the $20 bill.

Why the $20? Because, organizers state, Jackson is a poor choice to represent America.

Jackson, the first American-born President, signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which resulted in the expulsion of thousands of Native Americans from their native homelands. Jackson also argued against a central bank in the United States and opposed paper money, preferring the country stick with gold and silver coins as the standard currency.

There has been no change in the people depicted on American banknotes since the Great Depression. There have been attempts to convert the American public into using coins rather than paper, and two different women have been depicted on those coins. Women’s suffragette pioneer Susan B. Anthony was on a $1 coin which was widely unpopular (it was a six-sided coin) and is no longer in production. Sacagawea, the Native American woman who guided Lewis and Clark on their famed westward expedition, is on a gold $1 coin that has been minted every year since 2000.

There was a movement in recent years to have Ronald Reagan’s picture replace Ulysses S. Grant on the $50, but that died down.

So, can you name the two other women depicted on American currency?

The Americans currently depicted on U.S. banknotes are all men, but they are not all former presidents. Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father and famed statesman, is on the $100. Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury who invented the Federal Reserve System, is on the $10, and Civil War-era Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase is on the $10,000 bill.

Nine Presidents are on U.S. currency: George Washington ($1), Thomas Jefferson ($5), Abraham Lincoln ($10), Jackson ($20), Grant ($50), William McKinley ($500), Grover Cleveland ($1,000), James Madison ($5,000), and Woodrow Wilson ($100,000). The U.S. Treasury stopped printing bills over the $100 in 1945 and stopped issuing those bills in 1969 due to lack of use. They are, however, still legal tender, although the bills can fetch more than they are worth in auction.

The list of women under consideration to voters on the website includes:

Alice Paul – Led the fight to give women the right to vote.

Betty Friedan – The first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Shirley Chisholm – The first African-American woman elected to Congress.

Sojourner Truth – A former slave who became an outspoken abolitionist.

Rachel Carson – The environmentalist who wrote groundbreaking Silent Spring.

Rosa Parks – Considered the first lady of civil rights.

Barbara Jordan – First African-American from the Deep South elected to Congress.

Margaret Sanger – Pioneered Planned Parenthood, opened America’s first birth control clinic.

Patsy Mink – First Asian-American elected to Congress, led the push for Title IX.

Clara Barton – the Civil War nurse who founded the American Red Cross.

Harriet Tubman – Led 300 slaves to safety as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Frances Perkins – The former U.S. Labor Secretary who created jobs programs under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Susan B. Anthony – The most notable suffragette campaigned for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Eleanor Roosevelt – Redefined the role of First Lady, she was a delegate to the United Nations.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton – The women’s suffragette who founded the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention for women’s rights.

When the initial voting concludes, the top three choices will again be put to a vote. The Women On 20s campaign hopes to get a woman’s face on the $20 by 2020.

The third woman to appear on U.S. currency was actually the first. Martha Washington’s likeness was on $1 silver certificates issued in the late 1800s.

The fourth woman? Why, it’s Lady Liberty, who is best known for being the Statue of Liberty but who has appeared on numerous coins over the years.



About the Author


Kent McDill

kmcdill@spectrem.com

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.